Liz Warren’s GOP Challengers Demand End to Congressional Sexual Harassment ‘Shush Fund’; Warren Still Mum on Issue

Printed from: http://newbostonpost.com/2017/11/21/liz-warrens-gop-challengers-demand-end-to-congressional-sexual-harassment-shush-fund-warren-still-mum-on-issue/

 

UPDATED…

BOSTON — Republican challengers to U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren’s 2018 reelection bid are increasingly criticizing her perceived tepid response to sexual harassment and assault allegations lodged against her Senate Democratic colleague Al Franken, and now her political foes are demanding an end to the Congressional “shush fund” apparently used to keep such accusations out of the news.

On Monday state Representative Geoff Diehl (R-Whitman) issued a statement — without ever mentioning Warren — vowing that should he defeat the Cambridge Democrat next fall, he’ll call for the end of the recently-disclosed $15 million in taxpayer dollars that members of Congress have used to silence victims from making noise.

“Like so many other Americans, I was outraged by the behavior and the use of tax dollars to cover it up. Members of Congress must be held personally responsible for their behavior, not the taxpayers,” Diehl stated. “Taxpayers funding these settlements with no disclosure to the public is like a get out of jail free card.

“If any member of Congress has been inappropriate with their staff, it should not be swept under the rug.”

Former Mitt Romney aide Beth Lindstrom, who is also angling for the GOP nod to challenge Warren, also called for the end of the fund but likewise stopped short of connecting Warren.

“Just when you thought that Washington couldn’t get any worse, we are learning that millions of dollars of taxpayer money is being used to pay out sex harassment claims made against members of Congress under a cloud of secrecy,” Lindstrom stated. “Taxpayers have footed the bill to the tune of $15 million for settlements of this kind over the last 10 to 15 years, according to reports.

“These secret payouts contribute to a rotten culture in Washington and that needs to change.”

Diehl and Lindstrom issued their statements on the same day that news dropped alleging that U.S. Representative John Conyers, a powerful Democrat from Michigan who also happens to be the longest-serving member of Congress, used his office account to pay for a former staffer’s silence after she claimed she was fired for not submitting to his sexual advances.

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UPDATE — 10:00 p.m. — Republican John Kingston has provided the NewBostonPost with a statement regarding the special fund available to members of Congress involved in sexual harassment allegations:

“It is totally unacceptable for taxpayers to be footing the bill for sexual harassment settlements involving Washington politicians. The fact our tax dollars are helping some lawmakers cover-up their unacceptable behavior is indicative of just how broken things have become in our nation’s capital.”

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 Warren, who was one of the first members of Congress to inject herself into the #MeToo social media movement, has so far been silent on the “shush fund” revelation, an account that is reportedly managed by the United States Congress Office of Compliance. In Conyers’s case, the octogenarian reportedly did not tap into the “shush fund” but nevertheless apparently used taxpayer money allocated to House office payroll accounts to settle with his accuser, a former staffer who alleges she was “blackballed” from further Congressional job opportunities after she came forward.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Warren’s communications team has yet to respond to a New Boston Post inquiry asking whether or not she supports killing the “shush fund” account. A review of her social media activity shows she elected instead to make public her opposition to Republicans’ plans for tax reform and the White House’s reported support of ending net neutrality.

“As lawmakers and elected leaders, Congress should be held to highest level of standards, not be given a free pass,” Diehl added in his statement. “As the next Senator, I will work for accountability, to protect our tax dollars, end bad practices, and require more sunlight.  As they say, sunlight is the best disinfectant.”

Added Lindstrom:

“Members of Congress who were named in these settlements should be required to personally pay back all public funds used to make these sex harassment charges go away. Congress should not silence the voices of their victims by requiring them to keep quiet through a non-disclosure agreement. Victims should be able to tell their story if they want to — without financial penalty for doing so.”   

Meanwhile, a third GOPer challenging Warren — John Kingston, a businessman from Winchester — has yet to issue a public statement regarding the “shush funds” but has been a vocal critic of Warren’s decision not to immediately call for Franken’s resignation.

“If Senator Warren truly stood for women who have been the victims of sexual harassment, abuse, and assault, she would immediately demand the resignation of her Democratic colleague,” Kingston’s camp stated in a fund-raising email message sent Saturday. “Is there any doubt she would if Senator Al Franken were a Republican?”

A message left Tuesday afternoon with Kingston’s communications director, Jessica Roey, requesting comment on the Congressional account was not immediately returned.

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